BACKGROUND: Cerebral Palsy is, nowadays, the most common cause of pediatric disabilities, particularly debilitating for daily living activities. While the adoption of ankle-foot orthoses is very well established as gait treatment, the choice of the most appropriate orthotic configuration is not strongly supported by scientific evidence. The aim of this study was to develop an instrumented assessment protocol based on wearable gait analysis to support clinicians in ankle-foot orthoses configuration selection.
METHODS: Ten children with spastic diplegic Cerebral Palsy were assessed (7 males, aged 4 to 11 years; all functionally classified as Gross Motor Function Classification System I or II, with clinical indication of conservative treatment through use of ankle-foot orthoses). They performed a 10Meter Walk Test in three conditions: barefoot and wearing alternatively a polypropylene hinged and solid ankle-foot orthosis accommodated in the same off-the-shelf shoe model, after 20 days of daily use of each configuration. An instrumented assessment protocol based on body-mounted magneto-inertial sensors was devised to derive spatio-temporal, gait stability and symmetry biomechanical parameters within an observational pre and post cross over design.
FINDINGS: The analysis at the individual level quantitatively revealed how different patients benefited differently from the two orthoses. No general indications were obtained in favour of or against a specific configuration for the sample as a whole.
INTERPRETATION: The proposed instrumented protocol represents a quantitative and useful tool to support the clinical selection of an appropriate orthotic treatment and, potentially, in evaluating its effectiveness.